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Origin and Early History

Hendrick Aupaumut, a Mohican historian, wrote in the early 1700s that great people travelled from the north and west.

Landon Morton
Apr 10, 2023199595 Shares6438538 Views
Hendrick Aupaumut, a Mohican historian, wrote in the early 1700s that great people traveled from the north and west. They passed a body of water where the ground and the water were nearly touching. (According to John Quinney, after Hendrick Aupaumut dedicated the Mohicans' oral history to publication, a non-Indian took the manuscript to be written in the mid-1700s, and it was allegedly lost.) The first page of the manuscript was incomplete when it was discovered. The manuscript exists in two versions: one in the Massachusetts Historical Collections and the other in Electa Jones' book Stockbridge Past and Present. It's unclear what the terms "north and west" and "waters where the soil nearly touched" signify. Based on recent evidence, the Bering Strait hypothesis is debatable.) They traveled through the country for several years, leaving villages in rich river valleys as others moved on.
When they reached the eastern edge of the nation, some of these people, known as the Lenni Lenape, decided to settle on the Delaware River, which was originally named. Others headed north, settling in a river valley where the rivers, like those in their homeland, were never still. They renamed themselves the Muh-he-con-neok, or People of the Never-Still Waters, and called this river the Mahicannituck. The name was spelled in a variety of ways, like Mahikan. The Mohicans, on the other hand, are the name given to them today.
The Mohicans became known as River Indians because they preferred to establish their homes near rivers so that they could be close to food, water, and transportation. Wik-was (wigwams) were circular structures consisting of bent saplings wrapped in hides or bark. They also lived in long-houses that were often quite large, measuring up to a hundred feet in length. Except for smoke homes, which allowed smoke from fire pits to escape, the roofs were curved and covered in bark. A longhouse can house several families from the same tribe, each with its own part.
The lives of the Mohicans are rooted in the woods in which they lived. Red spruce, elm, fir, oak, birch, and maple trees grew in abundance. Wild turkeys and pheasants, as well as black bears, wolves, moose, beaver, otter, bobcat, mink, as well as other species, thrived in the forest. Herring, shad, trout, and other fish abound in the sparkling ponds. For a long way up the Mahicannituck, oyster beds were discovered under the river's overhanging banks. There were a lot of berries, cherries, and nuts. It had been a full life.
Women were typically in charge of the household, children, and crops, while men traveled long distances to hunt, fish, or fight. Fish, fruits, and berries were dried during the hunts and harvests. These were held in pits sunk deep into the earth and lined with grass or bark, along with smoked salmon.
Utensils and cups were painted, hunting, trapping, and fishing gear was repaired, baskets and pottery were made, and clothing was fashioned and adorned with colorfully colored porcupine quills, shells, and other spiritual gifts during the cold winter months.
Winter was also a time that I had to teach. Storytellers explained how life began, how the world was formed, why the leaves turn red, and so on to the children. Historians have related the people's stories, such as how they learned to sing, the origins of their drums and rattles, and what they might learn from the stars. Children studied the ways of the Mohicans, their extended family: how to relate to each other as well as all of the Creator's blessings, and how to live in their society with love and harmony. They also realized they had commitments, so they started learning new skills.
Those residents set up camp in the Sugar Bush in the early spring. It was just a springtime ritual to tap the leaves, collect the sap, and cook it to produce maple syrup and sugar. There were also ceremonies during the year where anything special needed to be remembered, such as the planting of the first seeds - maize, beans, and squash - and harvest season.
The Munsee, who was part of the Lenni Lenape or Delaware tribe, lived near the Delaware River's headwaters, west of the Mohicans. Their lifestyle and language is similar to the Mohicans'.

Mohican Territory

The Mohican lands stretched south almost to Manhattan Island, from both parts of the Mahicannituck (Hudson River), west to Schoharie Creek, and east through Massachusetts, Vermont, and Connecticut.
The Mohicans never recognized that they were descendants of many other tribes who had accompanied them on their journeys over the years. When their allies were threatened, Mohican leaders often sent warriors to support them. However, these were just brief alliances that would not lead to the formation of a strong confederacy like the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois.

The Coming Of The Europeans

Henry Hudson, a Dutch trader, sailed up the Mahicannituck River into Mohican territory in September 1609. He discovered himself in an area abundant in beaver and otter furs, which the Dutch prized. In 1614, a Dutch trading post was founded on Castle Island, which was later renamed.
Tensions arose between both the Mohicans and the Mohawks, Haudenosaunee people to the west, as the fur trade grew and furs became harder to obtain. Each faction wished to keep its share of the fur trade while maintaining good ties with its Allies in the region. Were indeed Mohicans and the Mohawks at odds, but the Native Americans were also mixed up in battles between the Dutch, English, and French. The Mohicans were finally forced out of their homeland west of the Mahicannituck River. In the early 1700s, they were forced to relocate east of the Housatonic River, in what would become Massachusetts and Connecticut, due to indebtedness, dubious land sales, and cultural disputes.
Communication with Europeans drastically altered the Mohican economic trend. Since new equipment, iron kettles, cloth, weapons, and decorative glass beads became available at the trade posts, they stopped producing many traditional products. The English, who gradually displaced the Dutch in this region, decided to "civilize" all of the Native Americans in "New England." Although exchanged by non-Indians, the expansive lands that the Mohicans once used for gardens, hunting, and fishing started to have boundary lines and walls. They discovered that they couldn't justify their ownership in colonial courts because their territories had been claimed to belong to European monarchs by "right of exploration." When more Europeans arrived, the Mohicans, like other Native peoples who had previously relied on themselves and Mother Earth's wealth, became more reliant on white people and what they could supply.
The arrival of Europeans in the Mohican homelands had another disastrous effect on them. Smallpox, measles, diphtheria, and scarlet fever were among the illnesses introduced by Europeans. Since the native people were unfamiliar with these diseases, they could not develop immunity to them, and hundreds of thousands - even whole villages - died. The number of Mohicans was significantly reduced as a result of these diseases.
Local communities were also visited by European Christians with missionary zeal, with the aim of converting the inhabitants from their traditional pagan traditions to Christianity. Since the Europeans seemed to be prospering in this new world, some Native people decided to be missionized, believing that the Europeans' God was more powerful. John Sergeant, a priest, came to live with the Mohicans in their settlement of Wnahktukuk in 1734. He taught the Christian faith earnestly, baptizing those who followed his preaching and giving them Christian names like John, Rebekah, Timothy, Mary, and Abraham.
The Mohicans granted permission to John Sergeant to establish a mission in the community in 1738. The European settlers eventually named the settlement "Stockbridge," after a village in England. It was near a large meadow bordered by the stunning Berkshire Mountains in western Massachusetts, on the Housatonic River. A church and a school were constructed in this mission settlement. The Mohicans, as well as other Native Americans who settled in the region, were dubbed "Stockbridge Indians."
Between the years 1700 and 1800, European countries fought for dominance of the continent known as America. The French and Indian Wars were actually wars between England and France over land that they had conquered from Native Americans who had been recruited to fight alongside them. The American colonists fought England in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. The "Americanized" colonies didn't want to be ruled by the Mother Country anymore. The Mohicans of Stockbridge, as well as the Oneida, Tuscarora, and other Native warriors, backed the colonists in their fight for independence. A lot of Stockbridge Mohicans died in one battle, the Battle of Van Cortlandt's Woods. When the remaining warriors returned home, they learned that attempts to evict them from Stockbridge had already been made.
The fur trade, European missionaries, plague, and war all had a major impact on the Mohican people's lives. Both of these factors conspired to bring their common Mohican way of life and values to a halt. European customs replaced their spiritual rites. Since fewer and fewer people spoke the Mohican language, their perceptions of the natural world shifted. Basket and pottery making remained traditional crafts, but other seasonal jobs were phased out. To live, the Stockbridge Mohicans followed non-Indian neighbors' trades and habits, such as planting, lumbering, attending church, and sending their children to kindergarten. However, as the eighteenth century drew to a close, their fortunes were about to change even more dramatically.

Removals Westward

The Stockbridge Mohicans were no longer needed in their own Christian community after the Revolutionary War, with their numbers vastly diminished and intruders (called "settlers") utilizing unscrupulous means to obtain title to the land. The Oneida people, who had served alongside the colonists in the battle, gave them a piece of their fertile farmland and woodland. In the mid-1780s, the Stockbridge Mohicans declined the invitation and relocated to New Stockbridge, near Oneida Lake. They cleared woods and established farms once more. A kindergarten, a church, and a sawmill were all constructed. Under the leadership of Joseph Quinney and his advisors, the tribe flourished.
Estate corporations, on the other hand, suggested that New York State expel all Indians from its boundaries in order to benefit from the land. There was a lot of pressure to get rid of it. "About one-third of my church and one-fourth of the tribe (70 souls) began from this position for "White River," wrote John Sergeant in his August 1818 journal. Their chief, John Metoxen, led the party to the White River region of what is now Indiana, where they settled with their kin, the Miami and Delaware tribes. After around a year, they arrived at their destinations and discovered that Delaware had already been forced to sell their land.
In the meantime, missionaries, state agents, and Defense Department commissioners were bargaining with the Menominee and Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) for a huge tract of land in what was then Wisconsin to relocate the New York Indians. In 1822, peace was signed. The Mohicans of Stockbridge were on the move once more. The party that traveled to Indiana with John Metoxen was the first to arrive at Grand Cackalin (Kaukauna), also known as Statesburg, on the Fox River. Those who lived in New York followed for many years, commuting on foot, carriage, and even steamship on the Great Lakes.
The John Metoxen party may have been the first English-speakers in the state. Electa Quinney, a Stockbridge Indian native, was Wisconsin's first public school teacher. The Stockbridge Mohicans brought with them the first Protestant minister and the first Christian Temperance Union. They built a church and a school once more.
Meanwhile, the federal government was pressuring Indian states to sign land-cession treaties, which also included forcibly relocating them to territories far from their ancestral homelands. In 1832, Congress passed President Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Act, which mandated the relocation of any and all Indians from the east to lands west of the Mississippi River. Fearing the worst, a party of Stockbridge Mohicans relocated to Indian Territory in 1839. On this journey, many people died. Some made it to Kansas and Oklahoma, where they marry into different tribes. The majority simply gave up and moved back to Wisconsin, which had become a state in 1848.
During this time, a group of Munsees arrived in Stockbridge, Wisconsin, and were welcomed into the society. Originally known as the Stockbridge and Munsee, this community was later dubbed the "Stockbridge-Munsee."
The federal removal policy sparked discontent among those who remained in Wisconsin, resulting in tribal political divisions. When offered the chance by federal officials, some Stockbridge residents opted to give up their Indian citizenship and become tax-paying citizens of the United States, while others chose to keep their tribal membership and government. Fresh territories were discovered, and new strategies were considered. The Stockbridge and Munsee tribes relocated to Shawano County's Red Springs and Bartelme townships as a part of the Treaty of 1856. However, the rivalry between the Citizen Party and the Indian Party will have long-term consequences.


About every Native American tribe in the United States had been assigned to reservations by the late 1800s. The Stockbridge-Munsee reservation land was largely covered in pine trees. Farming was tried, but the soil was sandy and swampy, so the economy relied on forestry. The services promised in treaties, on the other hand, were insufficient and of low quality. For the most part, poverty was the norm. Merchants were offered a pittance for prized wampum belts and other tribal objects, artisan products, and even western clothes.
The government approved the General Allotment Act in 1887. This statute partitioned reservation lands and assigned portions to specific individuals. The Stockbridge Mohicans, whose lands had been allotted in Massachusetts, New York, Kaukauna, and "down below" in Stockbridge, we're no strangers to this. By allowing people with no familiarity regarding community property to negotiate with tribes, the program proved to be a very fruitful means of separating land from tribes. Any people in need of cash sold their allotments to businessmen who decided to log the trees. Some merchants conspired to obtain the land, and the Act of 1887 had provisions for lumber barons to secure unallotted lands. On the Stockbridge Reservation, this occurred. The lumbering companies cleared the forest and left behind land of no economic value.
Some families sold lakefront lands to pay off mortgages on land they had bought or were the legal owners of. Other Indians lost their allotments because they couldn't pay their taxes or repay their loans. As a result, the tribe's reservation property started to vanish. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, hard times persisted and worsened.
The circumstances in which Native Americans had been reduced, as well as the restrictions that had been placed on them, alarmed some Americans. John Collier, a lobbyist for American Indians, was one of these individuals. Following Franklin Roosevelt's appointment as Commissioner of Indian Affairs, he persuaded Congress to pass the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA). This law enabled Indian tribes to receive grants from the federal government to reorganize their tribal governments and reclaim some of their lost lands. The IRA, together with the tenacity of committed tribal leaders such as Carl Miller and others throughout the difficult years of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, enabled the Stockbridge-Munsee people to survive as a group.
The Stockbridge-Munsee reclaimed some 15,000 acres in the township of Bartelme, which is ironic. This western section of the reservations had been clear cut, rendering it marginal or worthless, and thus available for rebuy for American Indian use. Just about 2,500 acres of the existing 15,000 acres is placed in trust for the tribe, which is now known as the "Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians." Families started moving into the run-down buildings that were once the offices of the Brooks and Ross Lumber Company sometime after the mid-1930s. By the end of 1937, the Stockbridge-Munsee had a constitutional reform built on a Bureau of Indian Affairs model, as well as a land base on which to reconstruct homes for its residents.
Harry A. Chicks was voted chief of a new tribal council. Arvid E. Miller, the second president, served as the people's representative for twenty-six years. Both the National Congress of American Indians and the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council were established by him. The remaining 13,000 acres of land were put in trust in 1972, and tribal members were compensated for lands confiscated in eastern Wisconsin (roughly eighty cents per acre).

Stockbridge-Munsee Today

A new sign declares the MOHICAN NATION's reservation today on Shawano County Road A in northeastern Wisconsin. The words "Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians" circle the Many Trails sign. The word "Mohican Nation" recognizes the tribe's autonomy as well as the tribe's government relationships with the federal, state, county, and township governments. The terms "Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians" acknowledge the heritage of the community.
While registered indigenous groups reside in other areas of Wisconsin, the United States, and the globe, the Stockbridge-Munsee Group is still located on this reservation in Wisconsin. The Red Springs and Bartelme townships are included in the reservation's borders.
Any tribal members' households remain on trust land that has been given to them for their use. Others, like certain non-Indians, remain on privately owned property within the reservation's borders. Approximately half of the 1,500-strong tribal population lives on or near the reservations.
The Stockbridge-Munsee culture has not only flourished but has expanded in many respects over the last sixty years. First and foremost, the forests have recovered, bringing with them deer, bear, waterfowl, wild turkeys, and other wildlife. A white deer and a cougar have been seen, according to witnesses.
Any of the properties, including a few stone houses that are now on the National Historic Registry, continue to provide housing. However, mobile homes, hotels, and an increasing number of forever housing plans to increase the reservation's housing options. The Moshuebee Apartments, which are connected to the Elderly Center where meals and other programs are offered, are new apartments for the elderly.
The tribal council, tribal court, law department, Mohican News, tribal management, and roads departments all need several systems. A full-size gym, fitness lounge, aerobics room, and community center are all available at the Mohican Family Center. In particular, a new integrated Health and Wellness Center has just opened, which includes medical, dental, and mental health services.
The Pine Hills Golf Course has been extended to eighteen holes, with fine dining available on weekends at the new Supper Club. The initial clubhouse has been extended and now serves as a meeting hall and banquet facility for Several Trails. So many roads have been paved, and a sandy filter/waste-water disposal plant will provide drinkable water to areas of the reservation.
The ground for the annual pow-wow, which takes place the second week of August, has been conditioned. Sweat lodges are used commonly on the reservations, at a variety of locations.
Most of the Mohican Nation's economic success can be attributed to the North Star Mohican Casino. Shawano County's biggest employer is the casino. Non-Mohicans make up more than half of the 600 workforces. The casino also helps to boost the country's economy. Several buses arrive at the casino on a regular basis, and deliveries of casino and bingo equipment, food and drinks, gasoline, paper goods, cleaning supplies, and other essentials testify to the casino's economic benefits to the city. Small Star Gas Station and Supermarket, which recently opened, offers jobs and services.
Bowler and Gresham Public Schools are where the reservation's kids go to kindergarten. Many high school graduates continue their education at a college, technical school, or university. Members of the tribe have earned degrees in law, pharmacy, education, engineering, architecture, chemistry, fine arts, and other fields.
Bernice Miller demanded a room from the Tribal Council in the early 1970s so that she could save the documents and belongings of her late husband, Arvid E. Miller. An ambitious historical commission, made up of Elders and everyone else involved in tribal history, set out to compile all documented information about the Stockbridge-Munsee/Mohican people. For around ten years, a "ditto-machine" newspaper was launched and circulated neighborhood news.
Traveling to the east's homelands was essential for gathering history. At least twenty field trips have been produced since 1969. Youth and elders also toured the Mission House and burial grounds in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, in-car caravans or by bus. Monument Mountain was jumped by a large number of people. The Stockbridge Historical Room, the New York State Historical Library in Albany, the Huntington Library in New York City, and a number of other libraries and museums were used to conduct research.
Books, handwritten documents, notes, maps, photographs, genealogy information, and more can be found in the research collection.
Baskets made of splints and birch bark, bows and arrows, stone axes, war clubs, and other authentic objects are among the museum's collections.
A silver ingots belt and ceremonial pipes were recently returned to the library Museum via Repatriation.
As an outcome, the Arvid E. Miller Memorial Library is a valuable academic platform for students and academics. Every day, people from close and far come to the Library/Museum.
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